Presented by Kay Kyser
And his Mother
Emily Royster Howell Kyser
As a Memorial
To her Brother
Edward Vernon Howell
Dean School of Pharmacy
1 897-1 93 1
This BOOK may be kept out TWO WEEKS
ONLY, and is subject to a fine of FIVE
CENTS a day thereafter. ■ft~wa9-tafce«-w*t-«n
the (Jay indicated below: * '-*-^,*
iirlart IdIiIis lpin|t
SKETCH OF THE LIFE
OF NORTH CAROLINA,
^ By JOHX H. WHEELEK,
Author (ji- "nisioRV ok North Carolina," &c., &c.
P. A I/riMORK:
WILLIAM K. BOYLE, PRINTEK,
CoRNRK St. Pail and Baltimour Streets.
V A J
RICHARD DOBBS SPAIGIIT*
The recent centennial period of our nation was
marked by a spirit of historic inquiry.
Ooni^ress, by a resolution of 13tli of March, 1876,
recommended to the people of the seyeral States to
assemble in their several counties or towns, at the
approaching anniversary of our National Independence,
and that they cause to have delivered on such day an
liistorical sketch of said county or town, so that a com-
plete record miglit thus be obtained of the progress of
our Institutions during the tirst centennial of their
This resolve Avas promulgated by the President, on
21st May, 1876, with the liope that tlie object of such
resolution might meet the approbation of the people,
and that proper steps might be taken to carry the same
The committee for the restoration of Independence
Hall, in Philadelphia, invited the presence of the
American Historians, Biographers and Literati at that
place on the 2nd July, 1876, (the centennial anniversary
of the Resolutions of Independence,) desiring that a
biographical sketch of every individual, whose memory
is associated with the building, during the early days of
the Republic, be prepared and deposited on that day
♦From advanced sheets of Col. John H. Wheeler's forthcoming
volume, '* Leading' Men of North Carolina."
2 Richard Dohhs Spaiglit.
among- the arohives of the Xational Museum, witli the
request tliat "these sketehes slioukl not exceed two
pages of foolscap."
Wlien I accepted the invitaticm which I had the
lionor to receive in ]March, 1876, to prepare a Memorial
of tlie Life and Character of Eichard Dobbs Spaight,
of my native State, I felt that his long- and illustrious
services, ample records of which I had in my possession,
could not be detailed in the "two pages of foolscap."
Hence the memoir presented on the occasion was
"cribbed, cabined and confined;" and although kindly
received, was not satisfactory, even to myself. This is
the motive of giving a more extended, and, I trust,
satisfactory record of one who had "done the State
some service," over whom the dust of time was slowly
Eichard Dobbs Spaight was born, lived and died in
^ewbern, Xorth Carolina.
There are few States of "the old thirteen," that de-
clared Independence in 1776, whose early history is more
marked by interesting incident, or by acts of patriotic re-
solve and daring, than Xorth Carolina. None is so little
known to our Nation at large.* It Avas on her shores
*From 3r(l volume of "Voyaji,es and Discoveries of the Eiif2;lish
Nation, by Eicbard Halda;;'t," printed at London, 1000, |)age 301:
"The first voyages made to the coast of America, with two barks,
wherein were Captains Philip Amadus and Arthur Barlow, wlio dis-
covered the country now called Virjiinia, anno 1584, written by one
of said Cai)tains, and sent to Sir Walter Kaleif>h, Knight, at whose
charge and direction the said voyage was set forth:
" 'On the second of July, we found shole water, when we smelt so
sweet and stirring a smeele as if we had been in the midst of some
delicate garden abounding in all kind of odoriferous tiowers, and on
the fourth we arrived on the coast. After thanks given to God for
our safe arrival thither, we manned our boats, and went to take pos-
session of the same, in the right of the Queenes most excellent Ma-
jestic, as rightful Queeue aad Priucesse thereof.'
Richard Dohhs Spaif/ht. 8
that the Englishman first landed on the Western Con-
tinent, on Roanoke Island, in 1584^.
The iirst declaration of inde])endence of the English
crown was made in Xorth Carolina. The fearless men
of Mecklenherg, more than a year in advance of the
National Congress, assembled in May, 1775, and de-
clared independence. The docnments in the foot note
are from the records of the English government, and
are beyond any cavil.*
'•'We found the people most gentile, loving and faithful, voide of
all guile and treason, and such as live after the manner of the golden
age. They call the Island, Kaonoak, distant from the harbour we
entered seven leagues.'" Page 304.
This was the hrst landing of the English on our continent, and is
located in the present county of Dare, in the extreme eastern part of
The first conflict in arms between the regular forces of England
and the Colonists occurred at Alamance, in North Carolina, on ICth
The conduct of the Officers of the (Jrowu towards the people was
marked by oppression and fraud. The people i)etitioned in vain to
the Governor (Tryon) for redress. But failing to obtain this, made
open resistance. Governor Tryon, with a force of more than 1100
men, met the Regulators, as they were termed, led by Herman Hus-
bands and others, five miles west of Great Alamance river, on the
road leading from Hillsboro to Salisbury, and a coutiict ensued in
which sixty men of the royal forces were killed. The Kegulators,
after a conflict of two hours, were routed, leaving many dead and
many wounded. Thus, and here, was the first blood spilled in these
United States in resistance to the exactions of English rulers and
the oppressions of the English Government. The great principles
contended for by the Kegulators — the rights of the many against
the exactions of the few — tlie right of the people to resist all taxes
not imposed by their representatives — the right to kiu)w for what
the^- i)aid taxes, and how sai<l taxes were a])])ropriate<l — were the
principles for which, in 1770, independence was declared. The ofld-
cial account of the Koyal Governor, Tryon, of this battle, is given in
Wheeler's History of N. C, Vol. 2, p. 1(>.
*From State Paper Office, London, Vol. 1, p. 204. Extract from a
Dispatch from Governor Martin to Secretary of State, dated
4 Richard Dohhs Spaight.
.Vmoiig such a race of people, and animated by such
prineiples, the subject of this sketch was born, lived
and died. A faithful record of his services will com-
mand tlie deepest interest in the Histor}' of the State
in wliich he was a prominent actor.
Biograpliy has one advantage over History. Both
are recorded narratives. While History details facts
relative to IS^ations, Biography gives us the minute acts
"Fort Johnston, North Carolina, 30th June, 1775.
"The Minutes of tlie Council lield at this place the other day will
make the impotence of the Government here as apparent to your
Lordsliip as anything I can set before you.
"The situation in which I tind myself is indeed, my Lord, most
desjiicable and mortifvini>'. 1 live, alas, inglorious, only to deplore it.
The resolves of the Committee of JMechlenberg, which your Lordship
will tind in the enclosed newspa])er, sur])ass all the horrid and trea-
sonable i)ublications that the inflammatory s])irits of the Continent
have yet produced, and your Lordshij) may depend its authors and
abettors Avill not esca])e when my hamls are sufficiently strengthened
to attempt the re(;overy of the lost authority of the Government. A
copy of these resolves was sent off, as I am informed, by exi)ress, to
the Congress at Philadelphia, as soon as they passed in the Com-
This authentic record from the archives of the English Government
places this fact beyond all cavil, doubt or question.
Extiact from the Proclamation of JosiaL Martin, Governor, &c.,
of Uis Majesty's Province of North Carolina:
"On Board of His Majesty's Sloop, the Cruiser, j
In Cape Pear Kiver, Aug. 8th, 1775. }
" Whereas, I have seen a most infamous publication in the Cape
Fear Mereunj^ imi)orting to be the resolves of a set of people styling
themselves a Committee for the county of Mecklenburg, most traito-
romly declaring the entire dissolution of the Laws, Government and
the Constitution of this country, and sett'uuj up a system of rule re-
pugnant to the Laws, and subversive of Ilis Majesty's Government:
" I do hereby forewarn the people against such act, and conjure
them to persist and pursue in their duty and allegiance."
Note. — These records were coi)ied by me from the records in the
State Paper Office, Chancery Lane, London, 18G4. J. H. W.
Richard Dohhs Spaight. 5
of iuclividuals. The one, like the splendid eartoons that
decorate the walls of our National Capitol, presents to
the dazzled eyes of tlu^ spectator nuuierous forms and
faces, each distinct and ditferent; the other, like the
matchless marble of Hondcm, or Greenough, unveils
a single figure, in all its i)erfect proportions.
"A combination, and a form indeed,
Where every God did seem to set his seal.
To give tlie workl assurance of a man."
Indeed, a faithful biography of any distinguished in-
dividual is often the most satisfactory account of the
scenes and occurrences in which he was a conspicuous
actor. The life of Washington by Marshall is the best
record of the Revolutionary War.
The tow n of Newbern,* where Governor Spaight was
born, is situated in the eastern part of North Carolina,
at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers.
Around this ancient and classic town are clustered
many memories of rare interest. It received its name
from the emigrants from Switzerland, in memorial of
the vine-clad city of their fotherland. Here landed the
Palatines from the Rhine, led by the adventurous De
Graafenreidt (1709,) w hose valor resisted the inroads of
the savages, and whose industry made the "wilderness
blossom as the rose." Here was the seat of Royal
Government, long directed by the rule of Governor
Dobbs ; and here his successor, Tryon, held his court,
and raised a palatial mansion, more ornate and princely
than any at the time in America. From tluit day to
the present, Newbern has been known and distinguished
for intelligence, patriotism and hospitality, which have
won for it the name of " the Athens " of North Carolina.
In this town, (m the 25th March, 1758, was Richard
Dobbs Spaight born.
* More frequently now written New-Berne.
6 Jxiclno-d DohJhs Spaiflht.
His fotlier, Kicliard Spaight, was a natlTe of Ireland,
of an ancient and honorable family whieli still preserves
its rank.* He was api)()inted bv order of the King and
Council, dated 4th February, 1757, one of the Council
of CTOvern(U' I)ol)])s; and on tlie death of Henry McCul-
lock, he was niad(^ the Secretary of the Crown in the
Province of North Carolina — a position, in importance,
next to that of tlie Covernor.
A list of the civil officers of North Carolina at this
time is given, whicli may interest the antiquarian and
some of their descendants who are yet among us.f
*See iJuike's Landed Gentry.
t Extract from a Dispatch of (Jovenior Dobbs to tbe Board of
Trade, as to tlie coiulitioii of the Troviiice of North Carolina, dated
"The names of the Civil OfHcers on the Establishment are:
Kic'iiAKD Spaight, Secretaiy and Ch^rk of the Cro\Yn, appointed
by the Governor in 175G, in place of Henry iMcCullock, deceased.
Mil. Berry, Chief Justice, appointed b\ warrant from the Crown
in IT.jl), in place of IMi-. Ilenly, deceased.
Mr. Hasell, Baron, appiunted by the Governor in 1760, upon
Mr. Kieussett's resij^nation.
Hon. and Rev. Mr. Cholmondely, Audit(n- by patent on rever-
sion from the Crown, upon death of Lord Walpole.
1\OB]<:rt Jones, Attorney General, n))on ]Mr. Child's resignation,
by warrant trom the Crown in April, 1761,
Mr. Rutherford, Receiver General, lestored by the Lords of the
Treasury, after havin<>- been suspended in 17.^!).
Mr. iMcGuiRE, -Judge of the Admiralty, appointed by the Gov-
ernor in place of Mr. Ross, deceased, in 176(K
Mr. Marm. Jones, Mr. Charlton, and Mr. Dewey, appointed
by the Governor, Judges, in pursuance of an Act of Assembly passed
1760, to erect live Suj)erior Courts.
John Starke y, Thomas Barker, Treasurers of the Northern
and Southern Districts.
Mr. Palmer, Surveyor General, appointed by warrant from the
Crown in 175.j; also the Collector of tlic Port of Bath.
Mr. Dry, Collector of Port of Brunswick.
Mr. RiEUSSETT. Collector of Port of Roauoak.
Richard Bohhs Spaighf. 7
Mr. Spaight served as Pay Master to the troops raised
by l^orth Carolina to aid General Braddock ; in which
campaign Washington took his first h'ssons in war. He
married :Margarct Dobbs, the sister of Governor Dobbs,*
Mr. AVhitehall, Collector of Port of Currituck.
Mr. McCullock, Collector of Port of Beaufort.
These are all api)ointed by the Lords of the Treasury iti Eu.yland,
and salaries paid from thence. The other officeis are paid out of his
^Majesty's (piit rents. The Auditor £100 i)er aiuuuu, Chief Justice
£70, Baron £40, Surveyor General £40, Secretary as Clerk of the
Crown £25, Attorney General £80." From Records of Board of
Trade, X. C.
*We give the genealogy of the Uobbs family from which Gov.
Spaight descended, by his mother's side, from authentic sources. In
our country, especially in the South, we are behind the age as to
genealogy. In England, the subject is one of elaborate research.
In New England genealogical societies abound, sustained by a
Quarterly Periodical. Every tamily in this section is proud of its
genealogical-tree. Annual meetings occur under their ancestral roof-
tree, where traditions, hallowed by time, are preserved, the lines of
consanguinity traced, and the ties of atfection strengthened. Some
may, with pragmatic indifference, deride such efltbrts, but surely no
one can be insensible to the satistying feeling of having descended
from an honest and virtuous ancestry, and of being connected with
persons of unsullied reputation, of genius and intellect. It instils a
hatred of inactivity and vice, and stimulates to usefulness and virtue.
From Dictionary of American Biography. By Francis Drake. Boston :
Osgood & Co., 1872.
Dobbs, Arthur, Gov., of N. C, born in Ireland, 2nd April, 1089,
and died at Town Creek, N. C, on 2()th March, 17G5. He was a man
of letters, of liberal views, had been a member of the Irish Parlia-
ment, and distinguished for his efforts to discover the North West
passage. As Governor of N. C, he adopted conciliatory measures
toward the Indian tribes, but his administration was a continued
struggle with the Legislature on unimportant matters, dis])laying on
his part an ardent zeal for royal ]n-erogatives, and an indomitable
resistance on the part of the colonists. He was the author of "An
Account of the Countries Adjoining the Hudson Bay," (4to., London,
1748.) "Trade and Improvement of Ireland," (8vo., Dublin, 1729,)
and " Captain Middleton's Defence," (8vo., 1744.) (Continued.)
8 Richard Dohhs Spaiglit.
whose administration, as ruler of Xortli Carolina, was
in tuniultuons times. Tlie liigli estimate that Governor
Dobbs placed on his prerogatives as the representative of
royalty, was sternly opposed by the people and their
representatives, and ])rodn('ed angry and violent colli-
DOBBS OF CASTLE DOBBS.
From Genealof/ical and Heraldic Dicfwnary of the Landed Gentry of
Oreat Britain and Ireland, d:c. By J. Bernard Burke. London :
CoUmrn & Co., 1853.
''Tills fjimily was established in Ireland by John Dobbs, who
accompanied Sir Henry Dockwod to that country in lo9G, and was
subsequently his Deputy as Treasurer for Ulster. This John Dobbs,
who is stated to have been p-andson of Sir Richard Dobbs, l^ord
Mayor of London in 1551, married Marjiaret, only child of John Dak-
way of Ballyhill, and had by her two sons, Foulk and Hercules.
"Foulk was lost with his father, returning from England; and
Hercules, who succeeded to his father's property, married Magdalen
West, of Ballydougan co., Downs, and left an only son.
"Kichard Dobbs, who died in 1701, leaving his estate to his
younger son, (his eldest turinng Quaker, was disinherited,) Richard
Dobbs, of Castletown, born 1000. He married (second time) Mar-
garet Clingston, of Belfast, by whom he had three daughters.
Among them Margaret, who married Richard Spaigiit. He was
High Sheriif of Antrim in 1094, and died in 1711. His eldest son
Arthur Dobbs, born on 2nd April, 1089: lie was High Sheriff of
Antrim in 1720; for niauy yeair. TJember of Parliament for Carrick-
Tgr^Tu;; married Anne, daughter of Capt. Osburn of Drogheda, and
relicjt of Capt. Norbury, by whom he acquired an estate at Timakoe,
and had Conway Riciiard (his heir,) Edward Brice, Frances, and
Mary who married Dean Ryder. Mr. Dobbs was appointed Engi-
neer and Surveyor General of Ireland, and in 1753 was sent out as
Governor of North Carolina, where he acquired great possessions, and
His son Conway died at Beltast in 1811, and was succeeded by his
eldest son, Kichard Dobbs, who married Nicolini,(hiughter of Michael
Obyns, of Portowu, and had issue, Conway Richard, the present rep-
resentative of the family, who resides at Castle Dobbs, Antrim, Ire-
Crest: Unicorn's head.
Motto: "Amor Dei et proximi summa bealitmU).''
Richard Dohhs Spaigld. \)
sions between the Executive and Legislative Depart-
ments of the Government.
So frequent and fierce were these contests between
the <><)vernor and tlie Leiiislature, that the a^ed hands
of Gov. Dol)bs (noAV in his 7()tli year) were strengtliened
by the Government at home by the appointment of
William Tryon as Lieutenant Governor, and who, upon
the death of Gov. D. in 1705, became (iovernor of the
Colony of Xorth Carolina.
A county was formed in 1754, called Dobbs county ;
but in 1791 the name was abolished and the territory
divided into Lenoir and Ghasgow counties. In 179J) the
latter was changed to Greene.
A fort was erected in Western North Carolina called
Fort Dobbs; and the Governor owned large landed
possessions on Rocky River.
Such were the ancestors of Richard IJobbs Spaight,
who at the time of the death of his uncle, was seven
years old. His parents died soon after. At the age of
nine he was sent abroad to receive an education, which
was finished at the University of Glasgow, in Scotland.
On hearing that his native land Avas involved in war,
he returned in 1778 to America; and although not
trained to arms by education or tastes, he promptly ten-
dered his services, then only twenty years old, to CJen.
Richard Caswell, who commanded a North Carolina
brigade in the Southern Army under General Gates,
and served as akl-de-eamp to General Caswell at the ill-
fated battle of Camden, (16th Aug., 1780,) where the
British, under Lord Cornwallis, defcjitcd the Americans
under Gates. Banm De Kalb, Major Porterfield, and
many others fell in battle, and Gen. Rutherfoi'd and
others were taken prisoners. The victory of British
arms was complete, and the hopes of the patriots for a
time Avere crushed. Gates retreated to Hillsboro,
where the Legislature Avas in session, AA'ith GoAernor
10 I^iehnrd Dohhs Spaight.
Xash i)rosi(liiig-. A Court of Enquiry ceii.snrcd Gen.
Gates, and (Jen. Greene was appointed Commander of
the Sontliern Army.
This nnhappy experienee in war did not inij)roye the
taste of IMr. Sipjiiiiht for the profession of arms. But
he was destined to ligure in scenes in the great drama of
life, the duties of which demanded equal courage and
sacrifices, and in wliich battles and blood were the in-
evitable consecpiences. He returned home, and on
attaining- his majority, the next year, was elected a mem-
ber of tlie General Assembl}^ from the boio' of Xew-
bern, and re-elected in 1782 and 1783.
By tlie hitter Assembly, lie was elected a member of
the Congress (confederation) which assembled at An-
napolis on the 23rd December, 1783, with Hugh Wil-
liamson, (the Historian of North Carolina) who, like
Mr. Spaight, had been in the army, and like him was
in the battle of Camden, and Benjamin Hawkins (after-
wards a Senator in Congress, 1789,) as colleagues. On
that day, Mr. Spaight witnessed the resignation of
George Washington to Congress of his commission as
Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of America, an
epoch ever memorable in the annals of our nation.
In this illustri(ms body Mr. Spaight, although one of
the youngest, (being only 25 years old,) was also one of
the most useful and active members. His portrait in
this body of Fatres Conscnpti, by Trumbull, is pre-
served, and now graces the rotnnda of the Ca])itol. By
this body his talents were duly appreciated, since he was
placed on many of the most imi)ortant committees, to
which subjects of the gravest character were referred.
He was on a committee headed by Thomas Jetferson,
to devise a ])lan for the temporary government of the
Richard Dohbs Sjndf/M. 11
On tlie 29th of the same month he was elected, by
ballot of the Congress, one of the (^)mniittee of States,
which body possessed and wielded all tli(' ix^wers of
irovernment. Tliis body had the power to appoint all
civil and military olhcers, and to repeal any act of Con-
gress. The Conimittee of States met on the 4th of Jnne
followins?, at Trenton, New Jersey ; Samncl Hardy, of
Yiro-inia, was chosen Chairman. The Jonrnals of this
body prove that Mr. Spaight was an attentive, active,
and useful member.
He was elected by the Legislature of North Carcdina,
in January, 1787. a" delegate to the Convenlion to form
the Constitution of the United States, which body met
at Philadelphia on the 11th of May following, and was
presided over by George Washington. His c(dleagues
were William Blount (appointed, rice Richard Caswell,)
and Hugh Williamson (appointed, rice Wilie Jones.*)
In this bodv Mr. Spaight took an active part. He pro-
posed and urged that the selection of the members of
the Senate should be made by the States, and that the
term of service should be seven years. (Elliott's De-
bates, page 86.) He also proposed that the Executive
term should be seven years. The records of this body
prove that his attendance was regular, and that be
manifested a deep interest in the vital ciucstions dis-
cussed. No member was more conversant with tbeir
deliberations, which knowledge was usefully dis-
played in a Convention which assembled at Hillsboro',
on 'the 21st July, 1788, to deliberate and determine
the proposed plan of the Federal Government. He
proved himself the ready and able exponent of the Con-
*The celebrated Naval beio, Jolm Paul Jones, whose name was
orioinally John Paul, came to North Carolina after leaving Sc;otland,
and visitin.u Wilie Jones and his brotlu-r, and tl>eir fiunilies. became
so warm an admirer that he took their name '' Joues."
12 Richard Ihhhs Spaight.
stitution and its fearless advocate ; and althonuii a
decided Jett'ersonian republican, he was coadjutor of
Pavie, Johnstone, Iredell and others, in urging- its
adoption. But all in vain. He might well have ex-
claimed, as Hector did of Troy : —
" Si Pergama dextra
Depeiuli possent etiam liac defeiisa fuissent."*
This Body rejected the Constitution by 100 votes.
Thns Xorth Carolina presented the anomalous condition
of a State originally in the confederation, and yet not
in the Union. Consequently North Carolina did not
vote in the first Presidential election. This rejection
produced much apprehension among the friends of the
Government, among whom was Governor Spaight, and
specially General Washington. On the invitation of
Governor Spaight, Washington visited North Carolina
with the hope of intluencing the people in favor of the
Constitution. Such was the eft'ect of their counsels,
that subsequently the ^tate in Convention, at Fayette-
ville on the 21st November, 1788, ratified that Instru-
ment, and North Car(dina became a men)ber of the
Union. General Washington made an extensive tour
in North Carolina ; he was in Salem and Salisbury,
and did much to render the new Constitutionf popu-
lar. In this he was aided by Governor Spaight, and
other patriots of the day.
*If Troy could luive been defended
Tliis liglit liaiid liad done it.
+Wlien alluding to Constitutions, it may be well to remark that by
many it is sui)i)osed that our Constitution, as a State, formed as early
as the 18th De(;ember, 1776, at Halifax, was one of the first State
Constitutions formed, if not the first, and so ably formed that it
stood for nearly sixty years without aniendment. This is error.
When the Kevolutiouary War bad commenced, and the existence of
Richard Dobhs Spaujlit. 13
After tliis long; and laborious service in ('(nistitiitioiml
Conventions (Federal and State,) tlic IkmIiIi of .Mr.
Spaiglit gave Avay, and lie retired, for this canse, from
any pnblie duty. The West Indies, and other mild
climates, were resorted to for alleviation and relicl', l)ut
he never again enjoyed perfect liealtli. Hut his age
(then only 30,) his tirniness, ])atience and regular habits
so far trium])hed, that after an absence of four years
from public service, he was enabled to return home,
determined to spend the remainder of his life in repose
and retirement. But such was the ap])reciation of his
services by his fellow citizens, and their admiration for
his talents and his character, that in 1792 he was elected
a member of the Legislature, and by that body he was
chosen Governor of the State. He w^as the first native
of North Carolina that was chosen as her Chief ^Magis-
trate. It is not very complimentary to the State that
her first seven Governors, from CasAvell (in 177G) to
Martin (in 1792,) and all of the signers of the Declara-
tion of Independence, w^ere born in other States.
Fortunately for the enfeel)led health of Governoi-
Spaight, his administration had fallen on the mild rule
of General Washington, whose prudent and sagacious
some otlier goveinmeut tliiiii that of England was a nece.s.sit.v, tlie
Continental (Congress, by a resolve of the 3r<l November, 1775",
recommended to the Colonies to ado])t such goveninient as should
best conduce to their safety.
New Hampshire formed a State Constitution on . December, 21st, 1 775.
South Carolina March 20th, 1770.
Virginia June 19th, 1770.
New Jersey July lUth, 1770.
Pennsylvania August, 12th, 1770.
Delaware August lOth, 177G.
North Carolina Decend)er 18th, 1776.
Georgia February oth, 1777.
New York Ai)ril — , .
Jainieson on Constitutional Conventions.
14 Bicliard Dohhs Sp((i(jM.
policy com 111 a 11 (led the support and adiniratioii of his
coiintrvmeii, and party spirit was subdued and silent.
And, too, from the limited executive powers prescribed
by the State Constitution, the duties of Governor did
not require any great intellectual exertion. The framers
of the Constitution in 177() luid witnessed and had
become so disgusted with " high fantastic tricks " of the
Royal Governors, that they vibrated to the other ex-
treme, and gave to the Executive but little ])OAver and
less xiatronage. This Avas expressed by a member of the
body which formed that instiument, when on his return
home he was asked what powers were vested in the Gov-
ernor by the Constitution, replied: "Power, sir! Only
the power to sign a receipt for his salary, and nothing
In 1793, while Governor, he was elected and served
as Elector for President and Yice-President, and again
ill 1797. It was during his administration that the
Legislature met, for the tirst time, in the city of Raleigh,
on 30th December, 1794. The place for the meeting of
the Legislature had hitherto been undetermined: First,
at Little River, in 1715, in Perquimans county ; then
at ditfereiit jilaces, depending on the will of the Gov-
ernor, or the caprice of the Legislature — Edenton, Fay-
etteville, Hillsboro, Kingstim, Kewbern, Smith lield,
^aleni, Tarboro, Wake Court House, and perhaps other
points, have enjoyed this homn-.*
This necessarily produced great confusion in the early
records of the State, and many were misplaced and
The Convention that met to consider the Federal
Constitution in 1788, appointed ten commissioners, who
met in 1792, and selected the place where it now is.
♦Address of Hon. Kemp P. Battle, on " Eail.> Days of Raleigh."
Richard Dohhs Sjxdfiht. 15
Diji-ing the administration of Governor Spaight, the
Indians in Western North Carolina became tronhle-
some, in tlie new eounty of Bnncomhe, wliieh had l)een
recently created (1791.) He appointed in Jnly, 171U,
D. Yance, ancestor of the present Governor of ih^ State,
0(donel, with antliority to raise "scouts or patroles,"
for the protection of the frontier.
The dithcnlties between France and England, and
other European Governments, caused Governor Spaight
to issue on 25th September, 1793, a l*roclaniation en-
joining strict neutrality between the belligeri^nts. He
believed and practiced the wise ])olicy of Washington —
friendship with all nations and entangling alliances
with none. He ordered the privateers, which were
being fitted out at AVilmington, to be seized. This in-
vohed him in a controversy with Timothy Bloodworth,
then a Senator in Congress, and with William H. Hill,
the District Attorney of the United States. Governor
Spaight received the acknowledgments of the President
and Secretary of War, (H. Knox,) for his prudent and
patriotic conduct. On the 2()th of March, 1794, the
embargo Avas. laid ; war with England was imminent.
In May following, Governor Spaight was retiuested b}'
the President to raise and equip 7331 nu'u in ^Alay,
1794. On the 4th of March, 1794, the Wilmington
Light Infantry formed a company.
The Governor of Massachusetts, Samuel Adams, on
the 9th of October, 1793, informed Governor Spaight
that in a suit of Yassal vs. Massachusetts, the Governor,
(then John Hancock,) had been cited to appear; that
the Governor doubted and disputed this right of the
Court, and had summoned the Legislature, whicli had
declared against the exercise of such power, and solicit-
ing our Legislature to consider the question. The
Legislature of Xorth Carolina, in response, passed
16 Richard Dohhs Spaight.
similar resolutions, denying the riglit and power of the
A similar point was raised by ]\Ir. Jetferson, wlio,
when President, was summoned in the ease of United
States vs. Burr, at Kiclimond, and recently the point
was raised in Pennsylvania by Governor John F.
The subject of edueatimi was one Aery dear to Gov-
ernor 8paight. During his term of ottiee, the Univer-
sity had been located at Chapel Hill, and by a previous
Act, (1789,) he was one of the Trustees appointed, the
Board of which was composed of Johnstone, Iredell,
Davie, Williamson, Cabarrus, Blount, Mebane and other
distinguished men of the State.*
The letter-book of Governor Spaight shows other but
less important matters, but in all his deep interest in the
welfare of the State.
After serving his constitutional term of three years,
Governor Spaight was succeeded in 1795 by Samuel
Ashe, and he retired, as he hoped, forever from the cares
of public life. About this time, being then thirty-seven
years of age, lu3 mari-icnl ]Miss Mary Leach, of Holmes-
burg, Pa., who was of the highest social position, and
of one of the oldest and most influential families.
But circumstances seemed to dcfv his expectations of
retirement. Nathan Bryan, a meniber of the House of
Representatives from the Xewbern District died, and a
successor had to be elected. The public voice demanded
again the services of Governor Spaiglit. He was elected,
and took liis seat in Congress cm tlie 10th of December,
1798, (3rd Session, 5th Congress,) Jonatlian Dayton, of
New Jersey, being the speaker. He Avas re-elected a
member of the (Hh Congress, from 1799 to the 1th of
March, 1801. Theodore SedgcAvick, of Massachusetts,
*Hou. B. F. Moore ou Uuiversity of North Carolina, 1877.
Richard Dohhs /Spffir/ht. 17
was the Speaker. His feeble health durincj these terms,
as the Journals show, prevented his takinu nn active
part in the proccecliniis. He did not take his sc^at in
the Cth Congress until the 2nd of January, ISOO. His
colleagues were Timothy Bloodworth and Jesse Frank-
lin in the Senate, and Willis Alston, Jos. Dixon, William
Barry Grove, Archibald Henderson, Wm. H. Hill,
Nathaniel Macon, Kichard Stanford, David Stone and
Kobert Williams, in the House.
This was a dark period in the history of our Republic.
Questions of the gravest character Avere de1)ated with
ability, virulence and zeal. The Alien and Sedition
laws were advocated by the friends of the Administra-
tion, and other obnoxious measures.
For the first time in our history the election of a Presi-
dent devolved upon the House of Representatives in
Congress. On counting the votes of the States, (138,)
it was reported by the tellers that of these votes Thomas
Jeiferson received 73 votes, Aaron Burr 73 votes, John
Adams G5 votes, C. C. Pinckney 61, and John Jay 1.
There being no choice by the people, the House pro-
ceeded, on the 11th of February, 1801, in the manner
prescribed by the Constitution, to the choice of a Presi-
dent of the United States. On the first ballot, eight
States voted for Thomas Jefi'erson; six States voted for
Aaron Burr, and the votes of two States were blank.
The balloting continued, with the same results, until
Tuesday, the 17th of February, when, on the 3()th ballot,
the Speaker declared that Mr. Jefferson had received
the votes of ten States; that Mr. Burr had received the
votes of four States, and that the votes of two States
were blank. Consequently, Mr. Jefferson was elected.
(See Hickey's Const., 311.)
18 JRicJfard Dohhs Spaic/ht.
Governor kSpaight voted invariably with Alston,
Macon, Stanford, Stone and Williams for Jeiferson;
while Dickson, Grove, Henderson and Hill voted for
Burr. Gen. Dickson finally voted for Jeiferson. (See
Annals of Congress, 1801.)
This, as has been stated, was a critical period in the
history of our Government. The very foundations of
the Constitution seemed to be broken up, and the deluge
of anarchy and confusion to overspread the land. Then
" Shrieked the timid and stood still the brave."
But the ark finally outrode the storm, and rested on
the Ararat of safet}. The crisis was rightfully set-
tled, for it was j)atent to all, then, as is to all now, that
Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Adams only were the contending
candidates for President, and that Mr. Jefferson received
a majority over Mr. Adams in the popular as well as
the electoral vote. Hence the advocacy of the claims
of Mr. Burr was instigated on the part of his friends
by party passion and deliberate fraud, and on his part
by unhallowed ambition.
" The sin whereby the Angels fell."
This difficulty for the future was remedied by an
amendment (Article XII) to the Constitution. Other
amendments in this respect are demanded by recent ex-
perience, and which doubtless will receive the consider-
ation of Congress.*
When in England in 1SG4, conversing with a member
of Parliament, who was well informed and curious as to
*Mr. Jertersoii, in a letter dated J2th .Inly, 1810, to Saninel Kerch-
eval, insists that no Constitntion onght to go longer than twenty
years without an opportunity being given to the i)eople to alter or
amend it. (See Jefferson's Works, vii : 9.)
Richard Dohhs Spaif/hf. 10
the Avorkiiio-8 of our governinciit, I was asked if wc had
any tribunal which had the power to examine and settle
a contested election for President, in cases of alleged
fraud, error or corruption. When informed there was
none, he i)ronounccd "our government a rope of saud,
which the tirst storm of popuhir jdirenzy mi,i>ht shatter
to pieces." In the Appendix is presented the views of
Lord Macauhiy on our Government.* In the ])rivate
memoirs of Washington, by Curtis, (leneral Hamilton,
as to our Constitution, said to General Washington:
"Xow, mark my words, so long as we are a young and
virtuous people, the Constitution will bind us togctlicr
in mutual interests, in mutual welfare, and in mutnal
happiness; but when we become old and corrupt, it will
bind us no longer."
Thus fiir our Eepublic has stood the shocks of foreign
war and intestine convulsions for a century, and is the
acknowledged peer of tlie most prosperous nation on
earth. May Ave not hope that it will be perpetual?
"Thou, too, sail on, O .ship of State
Sail oil, O Union, .strong and jireat
Humanity, with all its tears,
Is banging breathless on thy fate.
We know what masters laid thy keel.
What workmen wrought thy ribs of steel,
Who made each mast and sail and rope,
What anvils rang, what hammers beat,
In what forge, in what a heat.
Were shaped the anchors of thy hope.''
After the excitement and labors of this extraordinary
session of CcmgrevSS, Governor Spaight returned liome
exhausted, with the fixed purpose of retiring from
public life. He declined a re-election to Congress, and
sought repose. But the accession of the Kepublican
party to power and i)atronage, added fresh fuel to the
desperate fortunes of the federal forces, and party spirit,
20 Eichard Dohhs Spaight.
in deinoniac fury, raged with a ferocity unparalleled in
tbe history of our country, before or since. Governor
Si)aight was the accepted and acknowledged leader of
the Republican party, while Mr. Stanly Avas the astute
and able advocate of the Federalists.
The people demanded then the continued services of
Governor Spaight, and elected him to the State Senate.
Mr. Stanly was elected in that year (1801) the member
of Congress from the Newbern District. Frequent dis-
cussions between these champions of the two parties
occurred.* It is recorded that the conduct of Governor
Spaight in these discussions was marked by the strictest
decorum; while he respected the feelings and rights of
others, his manhood repelled any attempt to impugn his
sincerity or honor. The correspondence shows that the
course of Mr. Stanly was personal and caustic. He
charged that Governor Spaight dodged^ under the pre-
tence of sickness, when any important vote, on any
objectionable measure, Avas taken in Congress. This
aspersion was repelled by Governor Spaight in a hand-
bill, which Mr. Stanly denounced "as containing humili-
ating tilth," and for which he sent a challenge to Gover-
nor Spaight to mortal combat; and although, like Ham-
ilton, no advocate of violence or of duelling, GoAcrnor
Spaight, like Hamilton, accepted promptly the call, and
also, like Hamilton, he fell. From his enfeebled condi-
tion — for he could scarcely hold steadily a pistol — he
might have declined the invitation. This tragic event
caused a deep sensation throughout the Avhole country,
and is still remembered Avith mournful interest.
In the " Recollections of NcAvbern Fifty Years Ago,"
by Stephen F. Miller,t it is recorded that " this duel
•Address at Newbern of Kev. J. T. Irviiii^, on the death of Gov-
tSee Our Living and Our Dead, Raleigh, January, 1875..
RicharfJ Dobhs Spa iff ht. 21
was foui^lit on 5tli September, 1802, behind the old
Masonic Hall, in the outskirts of Newbern. An eye
witness (Thomas Brown, since Fostmastxn* at Trenton,)
informed me that on the second tire the bullet pierced
the coat collar of ]Mr. Stanly ; on the fourth tire General
Spaii»ht was mortally wounded, and died the next day.
(^riminal proceedings were instituted against Stanly."
The jx'tition of Mr. Stanly for pardon fr<mi the Gov-
ernor (Williams) may be found in the History of North
Carolina,* and also a copy of the challenge and accept-
ance. A funeral oration was delivered over his remains
by his Rector and life-long friend. Rev. J. T. Irving.
Two life size portraits of him are preserved in the Inde-
pendence Hall, in Philadelphia.
When aware that the wound was mortal, Governor
Spaight met his fate with that patience under suifering
that had so long been his lot, and with that magna-
nimity which marked his character. As a statesman, he
was pure and patriotic ; as a parent, sincere and atfec-
tionate ; his memory and his services are held in respect
" He was not born to shame.
Upon his brow shame was ashamed to sit,
For it was a throne where Honor might be crowned
Sole monarch of the universal earth."
We have traced the genealogy of his family, (on his
mother's side,) from 1591), and his own career Irom his
cradle to his grave. Our sketch Avould be incom-
plete without some notice of his descendants, to whom
he left a large estate. Of his marriage with Miss Leach,
two sons and one daughter survived him.
I. RiCHAEU DoBBS Spaight, Jr., born in 1796, in
Newbern; educated at the University; where he gradu-
•See Wheeler's History of North Carolina, 11, 112.
22 Richard Dohhs SpaUiht.
ated in 1815, in the same class with John H. Bryan,
Rev. Francis L. Hawks, Wilie P. ^langnni and others.
He studied law; elected to the Lejiislature in 1819, 1820,
1821 and 1822 ; elected member of Congress 1828 to
1825 ; again elected in 1825 to the Senate of the State
Legislature, and in 1831 elected by the Legislature, Gov-
ernor of the State. He was the hist Governor elected
by the Legislature;, for the Constitution, amended in
1835, transferred tlie election of Goyernor from the
Legislature to the j)opular yote. He died unmarried in
II. Charles B. Spaight, born about 1800, in Xew-
bern ; educated at the Uniyersit\ , at which he graduated
in 1820, in the same chiss witli B. Jb\ Moore, Wm. H.
Battle and others. Studied law ; in the Legislature in
1829-1830. Died in 1831, unmarried.
III. Makgaret Spaight, wlio married Hok. John
Robert Doxni]ll. Judge Dimnell was a native of
Ireland, born near Londonderry in 1791 ; came to North
Carolina when eight years of age, under the auspices of
a wealthy uncle, Robert Donnell, who resided at Kings-
ton, Lenoir county. He was educated at the IJniyersity
at whicli lie graduated with the hrst hon(u-s in 1807, in
the same class with Gavin Hogg and others, then only
16 years old. He studied law, and was a successful and
popular advocate. In 1815 he was elected the Solicitor
of the Xewbern District, and in 1819 he Avas elected
Judge of the Superior Courts of Law and Equity, which
high position he resigned in 1830.
It is a beautiful illustration of tlie workings of our
republican system of goveriunent, and which has bnmght
numy men of energy, learning and talents to our shores
from abroad, that foreign birth is no impediment to
success, and that without any friends, save such as vir-
tue and talent may secure, and no fortune but ])rinci-
Richard Dobh.s Spa if/ /if. 23
pics of honor and justice, forciti^ncrs may, and often do,
attain to the highest positicnis of trust, honor and profit
in our Kepublie. This woiuler-Morkinii' prineipU' lias
no parallel in the history of any nation, ancient or
modern, and is justly a source of national pride. How
long would (Tallatin have had to live in Enghmd to have
become a member of the House of Lords? or how long;
would Hamilton had to live in France to become a
Chief Minister of the Treasury ?
In his otiicial duties. Judge Donnell was learned,
patient, polite and incorruptible ; a man of strict in-
tegrity and spotless reputation, as well as a kind, con-
siderate and indulgent parent, and an obliging and
generous neighbor. He wisely eschewed the allure-
ments of politics, and devoted himself to his profession,
to his family and his property. By skilful management
of the large property which he had obtained by his own
industry and inheritance from his uncle, and by marriage
and its connection, he was possessed of a liberal and
ample fortune. This was, however, much impaired by
the vicissitudes of war. At the time of his death at
Raleigh, on the 15th of October, 1864, he was a refugee
from his princely home and estates after the Federal
occupancy of ^ewbern. His descendants are: —
1. Richard Spaight Donnell,* who was born about
1819 ; educated at the University, at Avhich he graduated
in 1839, in the same class with Clarke M. Avery, Dennis
D. Ferebee, Thomas D. Meares, and others. He was
distinguished as a lawyer. His first public service was
as a member of Congress in 1817-1819. He was elected
to the Legislature from Beaufort county, in 18(31, 1862,
1863 and 1864. He was twice elected Speaker of the
House. He died unmarried in 1867.
24 Richard Dobhs Spaif/ht.
2. Mary, was the second wife of the Hon. Charles
B. Shepard. Mr. Shepard was a native of Kewbern;
born 5th December, 1807; educated at the UniTersitv
at which he i>Tadnated in 1827, in the same class with
A. O. P. Xicholson, of Tennessee, Warren AVinslow
and others. He was the son of William 8hepard, who
was also the father of AVilliam B., James B. and Fred-
erick B.* Tlieir mother was a Blount of tlie old and
distinguished family of that name in North Carolina
and in England. Their Aunt (Hannali Sliepard) married
Mr. Biddle of Philadelphia. Slie was the mother of
Commodore Biddle and Nicholas Biddle, the celebrated
financier. He was elected a member of the House of
Representatives in Congress from 1837 to 1841, and died
26th October, 184.3, leaving a son by a former marriage,
and two daugliters. One of whom, (Mary,) married
James A. Bryan, of N'ewbern, whose mother Avas a Miss
W^ashington, and has one child, Charles S., now in the
14th year of his age, and Margaret, who married Samuel
S. Nelson, of New Orleans, and is now a Avidow.
3. Fanxie Donnell, married James B. Shepard.
Mr. Shepard a\ as a native of Newbern ; born 14th No-
vember, 1815. Educated at the University of North
Carolina, at which he graduated in 1834. Studied law.
In 1839, appointed by the President, United States Dis-
trict Attorney for North Carolina. In 1842 and 1844
he was a member of the Legislature from Wake county.
In 1840 a candidate for Governor, opposing Governor
Graliam, and in 1818 a candidate for Congress, oppo-
sing General Lawrence O'B. Branch. He died in
Raleigh, on 17th June, 1871, soon after his return from
*Millei'« Kecollections of Newbern, November (1874) imuiber of
Our Living aii(( Our Dead, page 252— "Old Graves iu Beaufort,"
Richanl Dohhs Sixuf/Itf. 25
an extended sqjonrn in Enropc, leaving one son, John
R. D. Sheparci, who graduated at the University in
1865, and at present lives in Paris.
4. AxXTE is unniarried : She is the owner of the
family mansion in Newbern, and has a Summer resi-
dence in Asheville, North Carolina.
5. C. Spakjht Donnell, married Thomas JNIundell
Keerl, a member of the Bar, now residing in Balti-
more. Mr. Keerl was born in Baltimore ; educated at
Princeton, where he graduated with high honors. His
paternal grandfather was of one of the oldest families
of Bavaria, whence he came to America and settled as
a pli ysician in Baltimore. His father was a merchant
of tliat place. His mother was a native of Prince
George's county, Maryland. Her father, Thomas Mun-
dell, was a native of Ayreshire, Scotland, (Burns' birth-
place,) and was a pupil of Dugald Stewart, and descended
from the celebrated General Leslie, Cromwell's rival.
Her mother's mother was a Miss Bowie. Her mother
was a Miss Eversfield, descended from Rev. John Evers-
field, of the ancient family of Eversfield, of Sussex,
England, whence he came to Maryland. He was a
clergyman of ability and piety, was possessed of a large
estate, and was the uncle of Bishop Claggett, the first
Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Mary-
Mr. and Mrs. Keerl have one son living, Eversfield
Eraser, now in the sixteenth year of his age ; hav-
ing lost their oldest child, John Robert Donnell, a
noble and gifted l)oy in the fifteenth year of his age,
by a stage accident in the mountains of Ncav Hamp-
shire. Their second child, Richard Dobbs Spaight, died
at the age of fourteen months, in Xoitli Carolina.
John H. Wheeler.
*See Spia^ue's Lives of tlie Episcopal Clergy.
The Views of Lord Macaulay as to tlie future of America, as
expressed in a letter to Judge H, S. Randall, of Virginia, author
of the Life of Jefferson, dated '' Holly Lodge, Kensington, London,
May 23rd, 1857":
'■'■ 1 have been convinced tiiat institutious purely denioeratie must
sooner or later destroy liberty or civilizatiou, or both. In Europe,
where the population is dense, the effect would be instantaneous.
Either the i)oor would plunder the rich, and civilization would perish ;
or order and prosperity would be preserved by a strong military gov-
ernment, and liberty perish. You may think your country enjoys an
exemption from these evils. I frankly own to you that I am of a
different opinion. Your fate is certain, though it is delayed by a
phj'sical cause. So long as you have a boundless extent of fertile
and unoccupied land, your laboring population will be far more at
ease than the same class in the old world, and, while that is the case,
the Jefferson politics may exist without causing any fatal calamity.
But the time will come when New England will be as thickly peopled
as Old l!]ngland. Wages will be as low, and fluctuate as much with
you as with us. You will have your Manchesters and Birminghams,
and in these hundreds of thousands will assuredly be out of work.
Then your institutions will be fairly brought to the test. Distress
makes the laborer mutinous and discontented, and he listens with
eagerness to agitators who tell him that it is a monstrous iniciuity
that one man should have a million, while another cannot get a fall
meal. In bad years, it is true we have a plenty of grumbling here
in England, and often some rioting. But this matters but little, for
here the sutterers are not the rulers. The supreme power is in the
hands of a select, of an educated class — of a class which knows
itself to be deeply interested in the security of property and the
maintenence of order. Ac(!ordingly, the malcontents are firmly but
gently restrained. The bad times are got over, without robbing the
rich to relieve the indigent. The si)rings of national pr()si)erity soon
begin to flow again ; work is plentiful ; wages rise ; and all is tran-
quility and cheerfulness. T have seen England pass through three or
four t'mws such critical seasons as I have described. Tliroiigh such
seasons, the United States nuist i>ass in the couise of the next cen-
tury, if not in this. And how will you get through f 1 heartily
w ish you a safe deli^•erancc. But my reason and my wishes are at
war, and I cannot help foreboding tlio worst. It is quite plain that
yonr ooverument will never be able to restrain a distressed and dis-
contented majority— for the majority is the government, and has the
rich, who always are in a minority, at their mercy. The day will
(;ome when in the State of ^'ew York, a mnltitn<le of i)eople, none of
whom has had more than half a breaktast, or expects to have any
dinner, will choose the Legislature. Is it jmssible to doubt what
kind of members will be chosen '. On one side is a statesman preach-
ing patience ; respect for vested rights ; strict observance of public
faith. On the other is a demogogue ranting about the tyranny of
capitalists and usurers, and asking why any one should be permitted
to drink champagne au<l ride in carriages, while thousands of honest
folks are in actual want of necessaries. Which of the two candidates
is likely to be preferred when he hears his children crying for bread?
1 seriously fear that you will in some such season of adversity do
things wliich will prevent prosperity from returning— that you will
act like people who in a year of scarcity devour all the seed corn, and
thus make the next year not one of scarcity but of absolute famine.
Then come spoliations— this will only increase the distress ; there is
nothing to stop yon. Your Constitution is all sail and no anchor.
When society has entered on the downward progress, either civiliza-
tion or liberty must perish, or both. Either some Cciesar or Napoleon
will seize the reins of government with a strong hand, or your repub-
lic will be as fully plundered and laid waste by barbarians in the 20th
century, as the Koman empire was in the tifth century, with this dif-
ference, that the Huns and Vandals who ravaged the Roman empire
came from without, while yonr Huns and Vandals will have been
engendered within vour own country by your own institutions.''
J. H. W.
FKOM BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD OF YALE COLLEGE.
CLASS OF 1S3S.
Ricliard Spaiglit Doiincll.
Born at New Berne, N. C, Sept. 20, 18lM). His father, Hon. John
E. Donnell, descended from an influential family in the Xorth of
Ireland; inherited wealth from a relative in this country; came to
North Carolina when a youth; was educated in the University of
that State and became a distinguished lawyer and judge. The
mother of Kichard, Margaret Elizabeth Spaight, was the only daugh-
ter of Gov. Kichard L>obbs Spaight, the Bevolutionary patriot, and
sister of the younger Gov. Spaight, distinguished in Congress, etc.
Our classmate was an only son and lost his mother in his early
youth, but retained permanently the imi)ress of her accomplishments
and virtnes. He was taught in New lierne Academy; entered the
class in its Sophomore year, its yonngest member; left during the
first term of Senior year. He left with ns a distinct recollection of
his generous impulses and noble spirit. He went to the University
of North Carolina, where he was graduated in 1839, receiving the
same year the honorary degree from Yale College. He studied law
with his father, was admitted to the bar, took an active part in
politics on the side of the Whigs, his father being a Democrat.
Having made his home in Washington, N. C, in 1848, Mr. Donnell
w as elected to Congress and took his seat in that body, its youngest
member, and just beyond the age required by the Constitution. He
was described by a newspaper correspondent as "being fair as a girl,
with tine, light, curly hair that any young lady might envy." He
was attentive to the duties of liis office, and took an active and influ-
ential part in the discussions. On the 29th of July, 1848, he de-
livered a speech of great power and eloquence in the House of
Eepresentatives, on the Compromise bill. His influence was always
thrown in favor of Union and of a peaceful settlement of the sectional
and other questions at issue. Feb. 19, 1849, he made a speech with
characteristic ability and earnestness on the bills to establish Terri-
torial governments in California and New Mexico, dei)recating the
thought of disunion and anticipating the horrors it would involve.
He declined a reelection to Congress, and left that body with a
strong impression upon his associates of his honesty and earnestness
of i)urpose, and of his sound sense.
After leaving Congress, Mr. Donnell represented Beaufort County
in the Legislature of North Carolina, and was elected Speaker of
that body. At the crisis of the civil war, under date of July 16,
1863, he printed in the Ealeigh Staiiclarrt of July 31, a long letter
on the ''History of Secession." In language at once earnest and
temperate, he most eloquently urged the claims of peace, and mani-
fested the continued love for the Union which all his life he had
cherished. This pajjcr attracted much attention throughout the
country and took rank as one of the most important publications
elicited by the war. His next public ser\ice was to assist in the
revision of the Constitution of the State. Soon after this, his health
rapidly failed. He was long a sutteier from gout, which he inherited
from his mother's family. He died at New Berne, June 3, 1807.
"Mr. Donnell was one of the most eminent lawyers of ISTorth
Carolina. Throughout his extensive practice no instance of ungener-
ous conduct can be remembered, and no case of dishonorable influ-
ence operating- upon him can be exhibited. Xot a syllable question-
ing his honesty and integrity was ever uttered. Becoming once
unexpectedly involved for a friend, he surrendered every dollar of
his large estate, and did it with such cheerfulness and alacrity that
even his most intimate friends looked on amazed. In the circle of
his friends can now be repeated with truth, what was once said of
his lamented mother, he was the signal object of resjiectful homage
and esteem, and where he lived its pride and ornament."
Mr. Donnell was never married. Three sisters are living.